Ostomy is a surgical procedure that creates an opening in the abdominal wall created for waste removal.1 It helps aid in the treatment of digestive tract and urinary tract diseases. An ostomy can be permanent or temporary.2
Permanent: Used when an organ from the digestive tract is removed.
Temporary: Used when an organ in the digestive tract needs to heal.
Why is an ostomy performed?
Ostomy is performed for two reasons: treatment or recovery. An ostomy can be performed for conditions like colon or rectal cancer, genetic malformations, trauma, diverticulosis complications, bowel obstructions, and Crohn's disease. An ostomy is the safest and most effective treatment method for all of these conditions.3
Types of Ostomy
There are many types of ostomies. The main types are:
An ileostomy is performed by bringing the ileum towards the abdomen and attaching the ileum opening with a stoma by bypassing the colon, rectum, and anus. Hence, the waste material is removed through this opening, and no other instrument or gadget is required to collect the feces.
A colostomy is a colon opening that bypasses the rectum and anus. There are different types of colostomies, which the physician can select according to the patient's needs.4
Psychology of Ostomy
Patients may face significant fear and dread from the thought of having an ostomy procedure. Likely, there is no other surgical procedure more frightening to patients than an ostomy. The younger the patient, the harder it is for them to accept the procedure due to embarrassment.
After the ostomy procedure, the patient needs to learn how to survive with it and manage daily life during the healing process. After the healing period, dealing with the ostomy becomes a normal routine, and patients learn to manage it.
Appliance and Care
A bag-like appliance is necessary for ostomies to collect the waste from the body. The bag adheres to the body and is not seen outside of the clothing. The bags are designed in a way to avoid odor issues. However, professional assistance is required for the procedure.
How does ostomy affect lifestyle?
Tub or shower bathing is the same with ostomy as it was before. If the bag or appliance is attached, bathing can be done with or without the appliance.
Wearing clothing with ostomy is the same as before the procedure. However, making minor changes are effective, like large panty girdles and pantyhose for women, and large athletic supporters for men who exercise.
Exercise is somewhat limited immediately after the ostomy procedure. People with ostomies can swim, play tennis, jog, scuba dive, water-ski, and many other sports and physical exercises.
Minor changes in diet are required. Foods that may lead to diarrhea and gas should be avoided. There are specific food options that work best for ostomy.
Sex is a basic need of humans in a healthy relationship. An ostomy does not make a person less masculine or feminine and should not affect a normal sex life. If there are issues, one should seek professional advice to deal with the matter.
Every year more than 100,000 people have ostomy procedures. There are chances that you may have met people who have ostomies and didn't know it. Having an ostomy does mean that you cannot have social relationships with family and friends.
Ostomies have improved the lives of millions of people all around the world. Most of the taboos and fears about ostomies are not true. One can live a normal, healthy, and active life after the ostomy procedure.
- Ambe PC, Kurz NR, Nitschke C, Odeh SF, Mslein G, Zirngibl H. Intestinal Ostomy: Classification, Indications, Ostomy Care and Complication Management. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2018;115(11):182. doi:10.3238/ARZTEBL.2018.0182
- Engida A, Ayelign T, Mahteme B, Aida T, Abreham B. Types and Indications of Colostomy and Determinants of Outcomes of Patients After Surgery. Ethiop J Health Sci. 2016;26(2):117. doi:10.4314/EJHS.V26I2.5
- Mulita F, Lotfollahzadeh S. Intestinal Stoma. StatPearls. Published online June 3, 2022. Accessed August 8, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK565910/
- Maria A, Lieske B. Colostomy Care. MEDSURG Nurs. 2022;28(2):125-126. doi:10.5005/jp/books/11133_27
- Dabirian A, Yaghmaei F, Rassouli M, Tafreshi MZ. Quality of life in ostomy patients: a qualitative study. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2011;5:1. doi:10.2147/PPA.S14508